Getting Moncton Right

I hope the Times & Transcript does not set economic development policy.  Read this editorial.  The T&T rightly positions Saint John as the Energy Hub and says “Smaller cities are adjusting away from a resources-based cyclical economy into manufacturing — yesterday’s announced $130 million military contract for Miramichi being a fine example.”

Then it goes on to position Moncton as the place for other New Brunswickers to ‘blow off steam’ on weekends and on vacation.

Now there’s an economic development strategy.  Energy hub for Saint John.  Manufacturing for smaller cities and tourism for Moncton.

There is certainly nothing wrong with entertainment and tourism as an economic development priority but setting up the community as the ‘entertainment hub of Atlantic Canada’ should not be the primary focus of the community.

Where is the editorial calling for support of the life/health sciences industry?  How about the ICT industry?  How about Moncton’s role as a distribution hub?

We know that Greater Moncton added something like 8,000 people to its labour force over the past 10-12 years.  Most of these jobs were in customer contact centres and a lot of them were in value added services. 

I hope there is not a single person or newspaper editor that is calling for the next 8,000 jobs to come from ‘entertainment’ or the retail sector.  These are low wage and relatively low value added sectors, folks.  It should not be the primary focus.

Now astute readers will say that the T&T says “Metro Moncton truly is poised to make ‘entertainment hub of Atlantic Canada’ a major part of its powerfully diversified economic portfolio.”

But it also says:

Premier Shawn Graham has known all along that ‘entertainment capital’ is a big part of Moncton’s future and he has invested millions of dollars into the area in that spirit.

Do you want the government to be investing millions into ‘entertainment’ or millions into life/health sciences infrastructure?  Millions into entertainment or millions into a world class ICT incubator? 

Again, for those of you black and white thinkers, I am not saying there is no role for government in support of tourism and entertainment but we need to get the priorities right.

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8 Responses to Getting Moncton Right

  1. Anonymous says:

    There is a pride factor in boasting that we have hosted AC DC and the Rolling Stones and some value in the publicity, but declaring it as as a major economic development driver would indicate that someone has spent too much time breathing the smoke fumes from the latest concert.

    I suppose Richard Florida would buy into this concept but I don’t. Riggers, portable toilet installers, bar tenders, parking attendents,and garbage pickers are not the jobs of the future we should be targeting.

  2. Frederic Gionet says:

    While great to be known as the cool city where everyone flocks to be entertained and do shopping, it does detract from other great assets in the area and seems to ‘cheapen’ our ED efforts.

    With 3 unique universities, a dominant health sciences and services cluster, exhaustive transportation and logistic hub facilities, and a strong ICT industry, you would think we could easily market ourselves as the city where you can have it all. The shopping, entertainment, and bilingual culture is cherry on top of above mentioned sundae.

  3. JF Savoie says:

    Two words: Niagara Falls

  4. richard says:

    During the 50s and 60s, its my impression that there were hardly any decent restaurants in Fredericton and not that many people seemed to dine out, visit clubs, etc. Same seemed to be true of SJ. In Moncton, however, going out for an evening meal and taking in some entertainment seemed to be part of the local culture, even way back then. Perhaps there’s something in the water there and Moncton is ‘doomed’ to be known as an entertainment centre.

  5. Niagara Falls is a great example. The average employment income in the 2006 Census for the Niagara-St. Catherines CMA was 17% below the provincial average. The Moncton CMA was 9% above the provincial average. That’s just about right. If we turn Moncton into Niagara Falls, we can expect a 26 percentage point decline in average income compared to the province.

  6. mikel says:

    I like it when the media gets trashed, partly because its just so easy, but its also cathartic for people who actually read the papers and think ‘who are these idiot writers?’

    Moncton’s industry puts just about every other cities industry to shame, perhaps excluding St. John, but St. John is heavily reliant on energy, and energy is very cyclical. When you talk about medical research, what little is in the province is in Moncton.

    As for entertainment value, come on. Who under thirty gets excited about AC/DC? At least the fredericton concert had bands who didn’t have to get wheeled up in wheelchairs. This is more of that media fabrication that thinks each city should be ‘known’ for one particular thing. It’s idiotic, but again, its tough to fill a paper with non news.

  7. Ron Gaudet says:

    Its easy for the T & T to preach to the masses – sad when the masses actually listen.

  8. Samonymous says:

    And in other news: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the launch Thursday of a regional development agency in southern Ontario, one of the areas hardest hit by the economic downturn.”

    This move reminds me a lot of the reforms made to DREE by Marchand during the Trudeau days when the economy took a downturn in the Montreal region (DREE was orginally for slow growth areas in eastern Quebec and the maritimes).

    The result was less money allocated to the maritimes and the program became less economically productive. Anyway, from what I know, I’m sure that this new Regional development agency in southern Ontario will be he recipient of huge earmark spending, especially since an election is looming. Methinks this will take away from the ACOA spending since, as I said above, it happened before under Trudeau.

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